The Stewart C. Meyer Harker Heights Public Library this week held a registration party for both its summer reading club and in-person programs for the month of June, completely decked out in a beach theme. And in keeping with the day’s theme, library clerk Heather Heilman brought a little beach into that afternoon’s Science Time program with an easy-to-replicate demonstration.
“We are still looking at ocean things,” Heilman said at the opening of the virtual program, “so this week we are going to look at shoreline erosion.”
She explained that a shoreline is, “where the water meets the land,” and that while this applies to fresh water areas, too, she would be focusing on erosion that occurs in salt water areas along the beach.
The materials she used for her demonstration were a large clear container, some sand, some water, and an empty water bottle with its lid (“We’re going to use this to make the waves,” she explained).
She began with building a beach from the sand, adding it to one end of the container and piling it relatively high. She then poured the water at the other end of the container, adding enough so that it reached about halfway up her “beach.”
She then took her water bottle and began pressing it up and down in the water, displacing the water and creating waves, much as an ocean laps the beach.
As she continued to make gentle waves in the container, she explained, “Erosion doesn’t just happen at beaches. It happens anyplace there’s water.”
She drew attention to the changes that were occurring inside the container, noting that the water closest to the sand was becoming cloudy and explaining this was due to the sand particles being moved by and mixing with the water.
Heilman also drew attention to the water mark in the sand and where that sand was being pulled down into the water. “That is the actual erosion … where it wears away at the land and pulls some of that … sand back away from the rest of the sand or soil,” she continued.
Heilman added that trees and plants help to hold soil and sand in place, so erosion is slower to occur in those areas; erosion occurs more easily on beaches where there is less vegetation.
She even added a practical application to the lesson, suggesting that her audience look around to see if they notice any evidence of erosion from recent local storms.
“Science is all around you,” she reminded her viewers at the program’s conclusion, “and science is fun.”
Watch the video on the library’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/harkerheightspubliclibrary/videos/382917359816915.